Sunday, January 20, 2013

Water Tax Bill is grossly unfair - O' Súilleabháin

The Water Services Bill published by the government last week is grossly unfair and represents another austerity attack on ordinary families according to a spokesperson for North Wexford Sinn Féin.  Fionntán O' Súilleabháin said that the introduction of water meters would be costly and totally ineffective in dealing with water wastage in this state.

Mr O' Súilleabháin said;

"The Water Services Bill published by the government last week reveals their intention to introduce water charges from the first of January 2013.  The Bill establishes Irish Water as a subsidiary of Bord Gáis, giving the new company incredible powers to install water meters on your property, tax your water usage and obtain data on you from public bodies such as the Department of Social Protection, Revenue and local authorities."

"The introduction of water charges will be totally ineffective in dealing with water wastage in this state.  Government officials have claimed that a water tax may reduce water consumption by up to 16%.  While this might be the case it will do nothing to deal with the estimated 58% of treated water across
the country that is wasted through broken pipes before it even reaches the household."

"Clearly this bill is not about water conservation.  What it is about is imposing another tax on cash strapped families who have already been bled dry.  It’s estimated that we produce 450 litres per adult per day. This means that double the amount of water used by our average Irish adult is disappearing through leaking pipes before it ever gets near a soon to be water taxed home!"

"The introduction of water charges is grossly unfair and represents another austerity attack on the most vulnerable families in this state.  Sinn Féin will continue its long running campaign against the introduction of this tax, a campaign that was initiated while Fianna Fail were in power and planning to introduce their own water tax."

Horse meat debacle shows need to promote 100% Irish produced food - O' Connell

The contamination of beef burgers sold in supermarkets here shows the need for Irish retailers to be encouraged to sell 100% Irish products and for the Department of Agriculture to ensure fair prices for food producers to enable them to compete.  That is the view of the Chairperson of County Wexford Sinn Féin Oisin O' Connell who said that the sourcing of cheap additives from foreign companies was endangering the international reputation of Irelands food industry and was a threat to the fulfilment of the targets set out in Food Harvest 2020.

Mr O' Connell said;

"The government has obviously tried to put a positive spin on this to reassure the public but the hard facts remain.  37% of burgers checked tested positive for traces of horse meat.  These burgers were on sale in several different supermarket chains exposing a maximum amount of customers to this contaminated meat.  This revelation has made worldwide news and is a major embarrassment to the Irish food production sector and a threat to the fulfilment of targets laid out Food Harvest 2020."

"Sinn Féin has consistently called for a more all-inclusive system of food traceability and labelling to be put in place in this state.  We need to have source of origin labelling on all food products sold here.  The idea that Irish beef products are been mixed with inferior additives and sold off to an unsuspecting public is wrong and needs to be amended immediately."

"It is estimated that with current population trends global food production will have to been increased by up to 70% in the coming decades.  Ireland has the potential to produce food for up to 36 million people.  The Food Harvest 2020 plan lays out impressive targets to greatly increase the productivity of our food production sector but these targets will not be reached unless the sector is protected against this type of debacle."

"The government needs to ensure that Irish people know where their food is coming from and that they are informed before buying inferior products.  A greater attempt must be made to ensure that Irish farmers can produce 100% domestic food produce competitively here.  Retailers need to be encouraged to buy Irish produced food as do public agencies.  Recently it was claimed by the HSE that they were under no obligation to access food from Irish producers."

Howlin needs to tackle the high earners at the top of the public service - Kelly

A Wexford Councillor has called on Minister Howlin to tackle over pay in the upper echelons of the civil and public sector.  Cllr Anthony Kelly said that the government needed to stop scape-goating ordinary civil servants and instead take real and effective action in capping the abundant pay and exuberant pensions of senior managers and office holders.

Cllr Kelly said;

"The so called Croke Park 2 negotiations offer the government a real opportunity to tackle the over pay in the upper echelons of the civil and public sector.  The people of this country have been disturbed and enraged at the exuberant salaries taken by these elitists for many years now.  Their legitimate concerns have gone unheeded as time and time again senior Ministers have protected the very highest public earners in this state while allowing crude attacks upon low level civil servants and front line staff in the national media."

"Recently Minister Brendan Howlin, who has a remit to reform our broken public service system, said that he had real regrets over the government's failure to tax the wealthy.  However it is Minister Howlin who has protected the highest earners in senior management across the public service.  He has ensured that they continue to receive remuneration far in excess of their European counterparts."

"These negotiations offer Minister Howlin and his government an opportunity to finally reform the system and tackle the inequity in public service pay.  It's time that Labour went back to their roots and took a stand for ordinary workers instead of allowing themselves to be used as a protective shield by the upper elite of the public service."

We will oppose introduction of water charges - O' Connell

The Chairperson of County Wexford Sinn Féin has said that his party will oppose the introduction of water charges and will lead the attempt to defeat the Governments Water Services Bill which was published last week.  Oisin O' Connell said that the introduction of water charges was a blatantly unfair move which would lead to the Irish people being taxe
d three times for every drop of water that they use.

Mr O' Connell said;

"The Water Services Bill confirms our worst fears.  As of the first of January next year the Fine Gael/Labour coalition plan on introducing water charges.  Incredibly, in a blatantly unfair move, the bill verifies that the government intends to tax the Irish people three separate times for the use of their water; in general taxes, through the national pension reserve fund and now through this new charge."

"The government intends to establish Irish Water as a subsidiary of An Bord Gáis Eireann.  This poses some serious questions as they have already made clear their intention to sell Bord Gáis.  Now a company that will have the power to install water meters on your property and tax the amount of water you use will be part of the deal."

"Irish Water will be given the power to access information on householders from sources including the Revenue Commissioners, Department of Social Protection, local authorities and the Private Residential Tenancies Board.  Not only is this a breach of your civil liberties, it also sets up the dangerous scenario where by a company with this power over you may be taken over by a private organisation."

"The introduction of water charges has nothing to do with water conservation.  If they were interested in conserving water then they would be concentrating on upgrading our antiquated water supply network.  Up to 58% of treated water is currently lost in our public supply system."

"Sinn Féin will continue our campaign opposing the introduction of water charges and will lead the attempt to defeat the Water Services Bill.  Fine Gael and Labour, and Fianna Fail who had planned to introduce this same tax, can expect firm and consistent resistant from under pressure families across this county who simply have no more to give."

Friday, January 11, 2013

It's about taxing the rich, not taxing work - Kelly

A local Sinn Féin representative has renewed his call for the introduction of a wealth tax, claiming such a  tax would be a charge on those who could afford it and not something that would impede the creation of employment.  Responding to comments made by Jobs Minister Richard Bruton, Cllr Anthony Kelly said that the Minister was out of touch with reality and should explain himself to the 2200 Wexford unemployed who recently applied for 250 new positions.

Cllr Kelly said;

"Minister Bruton seems to be out of touch with reality.  The Minister has ruled out a tax on wealth by suggesting that it would impede the creation of new jobs.  He backed this up by revealing that the IDA created a little over 6000 jobs last year.  Does the Minister not realise that there are close to 20000 people out of work or in forced temporary employment in this county alone?  Does he realise that this state is suffering from an emigration crisis not seen since the famine?"

"Minister Bruton should explain his utopian talk to the 2200 Wexford people who turned up at the Opera House last week to apply for 250 new jobs.  The creation of these new jobs is greatly welcomed but we need more, far more than Minister Bruton and his government are capable of delivering."

"This government has hung its colours to the mast.  In the last two budgets they have protected the wealthy and, like Fianna Fail before them, have targeted the most vulnerable families in this state with extreme austerity.  Minister Bruton knows only too well that other nations tax their wealthy and it does not lead to the fabled flight of capital which we are constantly told will happen if the rich are asked to pay their share."

"Sinn Féin has consistently proposed making those who can afford to pay more to do so.  We favour the introduction of a 1% wealth tax on net assets over €1 million excluding working farmland, business assets, 20% of the family home and pension pots.  Such a tax would bring in €800 million per annum, would be progressive and would relieve the unbearable pressure on ordinary people."

Students starve as SUSI nightmare continues into 2013

Student Unions are being forced to set up food boxes for some students who are too poor to afford food according to a local teacher.  Fionntán O' Súilleabháin said that students were struggling to pay for rent and food due to continued delays in the processing of their grants.  The Sinn Féin rep said that more than one thousand Wexford students were among those affected by the delays.

Mr O' Súilleabháin said;

"In a week when the government bought 58 new Audi A6 cars for their use we learn that Irish students are literally starving on college campuses across the state.  Like something out of a Dickens novel, Student Unions are being forced to set up food collection boxes for hungry students while our government splashes the cash on its own creature comforts.  This is disgusting and totally unacceptable."

"It's now January and there are five and a half thousand students who are yet to receive a cent of their college grant payments.  Among those affected are more than a thousand County Wexford students.  Sinn Féin warned two months ago that students were being forced to drop out of school because of the delays in the processing of payments.  Now they are starving on college campuses and still nothing is done."

"This year third level students were encouraged to apply for their grant payments through the new SUSI online application system that had been established by the Department of Education.  SUSI has been an unbridled disaster from the very start."

"This problem has been brought to the attention of the government and they are very much aware of it.  Unfortunately they don't seem to care and are showing utter contempt for the welfare of our students.  This situation is a damning indication of the government's commitment to ordinary citizens."

Cuts to rent allowance slammed by Wexford Borough Council

A motion calling on the Minister for Social Protection to urgently review the recent cuts to the rent allowance was supported unanimously by the elected representatives of Wexford Borough Council last Monday night.  The motion was put forward by Sinn Féin Cllr Anthony Kelly who described the cuts as 'drastic and detrimental to the welfare of struggling families.'

Cllr Kelly said;

"Last year the government devised new maximum rent limits for people who were availing of rent supplement.  These new limits were carelessly put together with little attention being played to actual rental prices in an area before an often unrealistic limit was set there."

"An onus was placed on tenants who received letters informing them of the new criteria to renegotiate their rent with the landlord.  The tenants were left without support even if it the negotiations led to them being forced to break their contract which could result in the loss of their security deposits.”

"Its an unfortunate legacy of the last Fianna Fail led government that adequate social housing was not devised to meet the demands of that time.  As we entered a recession the demand grew but still little effort was made to tackle the problem." 

"According to the government, Rent supplement is a temporary benefit provided to offer short-term income support to assist with reasonable accommodation costs of eligible people living in private rented accommodation who are unable to provide for their accommodation costs from their own resources and who do not have accommodation available to them from another source.  Without the availability of social housing people on rent allowance have nowhere else to go and will not be able to function without this payment."

The following is the text of Cllr Kelly's motion.  "Taking into consideration the recent Credit Union survey on Household Income I would ask this Council to call on the Minister for Social Protection to urgently review the recent and drastic cuts to the rent allowance."

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Generation lost while Government attempt to bury the truth by manipulating unemployment figures

An Enniscorthy Councillor has accused the government of misrepresenting unemployment figures in an attempt to convince the public that they are effectively dealing with the jobs crisis.  Cllr Johnny Mythen said that it was time to face up to the facts and tackle the core causes of mass unemployment before we are left with a nation that was occupied by OAPs and run by bankers.

"We were promised transparency, a new Ireland," Cllr Mythen said.  "The recent C.S.O. statistics are being held up as a success story that austerity is working but when examined closely it's another false trail.  Unemployment figures always go down at Christmas time mainly due to seasonal work.  People on internships are also removed from the live register.  Combine this with  over 86000 leaving the country in 2012 and we get the shocking truth as to what is really happening to our Country.

"The political choices being made to protect markets and banks are slowly killing our Nation.   Sinn Fein are rightly challenging these policies.  We have put together a comprehensive alternative budgetary strategy to stimulate the economy with a €13Billion jobs programme.  The  real tragedy is the Governments continued pursuance of taking disposable income from the local economy and at the same time expecting it to grow."

"The paying of promissory notes must also stop now.  This is private debt nothing what so ever to do with the people.  It's time now to stop this masquerading of statistics.  It's time to face up to the facts and face down these bondholders and speculators before we are all left with a shell of a nation stripped of its assets, occupied by OAPs, economically enslaved,  and owned and run by outsiders and bankers."

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Emigration is vote of no-confidence in government - O'Connell

Emigration from Ireland is now at levels not seen since the Famine, startling new figures reveal. The Chairperson of County Wexford Sinn Féin has described the continuing haemorrhaging of Irish people out of the country as being a demographic tidal wave of economic refugees. Oisin O' Connell said that the emigration figures are proof that the austerity mentality imposed by Fianna Fail, and adopted by Fine Gael and Labour, has failed utterly.

Mr O' Connell said;

"For every ten jobs that existed in 2008, only four remain today. The result is that 86,870 people left this country last year - a demographic tidal wave of economic refugees unequalled since the Famine. Our neighbours and loved ones have left, because our government has created an environment without prospects, without possibilities, and without hope. They have left because of a fundamental lack of political vision - and the abdication of successive government's responsibility to Ireland, first."

"Every time someone emigrates, that is one more vote of no-confidence in the government's competence. No amount of spin can change this. That anyone in government could try to sell the idea that this is merely a subjective lifestyle choice, can only show how insulated that person is from the effects of their own actions."

"Sinn Féin has consistently stood against the knee-jerk austerity mentality adopted by Fine Gael, Labour, and their loyal opposition, Fianna Fail. You cannot bleed a patient to health. The needs of the nation as a whole, must outweigh the fiscal fetishes of the banking-and-finance factions who precipitated the crisis. Sinn Fein has fully costed, progressive alternatives: these have prioritised national enterprise and job creation from the beginning."

"The emigration scandal cannot be pushed into a closet anymore. At this stage nearly every family in the state has been touched by it. The emigration figures are proof that people are voting with their feet: the government's knee-jerk austerity mentality has failed - failed utterly. It's time for a new national vision. It's time for the Sinn Féin alternative."


New Year Resolution? Cut Ministers salaries in 2013

A local spokesperson for Sinn Féin has called on the government to make its own sincere new year's resolution by immediately enforcing wage cuts on politicians.  Responding to last week's revelation that Taoiseach Enda Kenny is still the third highest paid head of state in Europe before expenses, Fionntán O' Súilleabháin said that it was no wonder that the people of Ireland had lost all respect for our political system.

Mr O' Súilleabháin said;

"This is a new year and thousands of recession stricken families across this county will be hoping it can be a new start.  Our county has been decimated by long term unemployment, mass emigration and the social problems connected to the economic collapse.  The effects of seemingly endless austerity budgets wear away what little is left in the local economy and squeeze people to the very brink.  We are told this is the only way and that everyone is sharing the burden."

"Of course this is not the case."

"Last week it was revealed that Taoiseach Enda Kenny is still the third highest paid head of state in Europe before claiming expenses.  This is despite the fact that he earns €14,000 less than his Fianna Fail predecessors.  Mr Kenny earns €200,000 per year without counting expenses."

"In the recent budget decisions were taken to cut the children's allowance and the respite grant for the disabled.  No decision was taken to cut Mr Kenny's basic wage of over €3845 per week or the equally lucrative wages gained by other elected reps."

"Many left wing TDs only take the average industrial wage now but the rest of the money is still drawn by their organisations.  The only way to save the state the cost is to change the wage entitlements.  The Fine Gael and Labour coalition should be looking at  making these changes as soon as possible.  It will send the right message to the Irish people and perhaps restore some of their respect for the political system."